While Boris Johnson claims he has struck on the ‘rough shape’ of a Brexit deal, Leo Varadkar has said that the British government’s newest proposals fall ‘very short of what we would need’ for a new agreement.
The leaders of both countries appear to have very differing outlooks on the progress towards a new withdrawal agreement between the UK and the EU, with the Irish backstop being one of the key issues.
Earlier, the DUP denied suggestions that it was reconsidering its red lines on the backstop issue.
But DUP leader Arlene Foster then poured cold water on the idea, reported in the Times, that her party could accept regulatory checks in the Irish Sea in exchange for Northern Ireland coming out of the customs union.
Nonetheless, Boris Johnson told a convention today that he was “cautiously optimistic” of getting a deal in his next talks on the continent.
Speaking at the Northern Convention in Rotherham Johnson said there was the “rough shape” of a deal in place – although he was heckled for closing parliament.
WATCH: Boris Johnson heckled during speech: ‘Get back to parliament’Meanwhile, the taoiseach of Ireland briefed a press conference that “our position hasn’t changed”.
Asked about the rumours of a change in the DUP’s position, he said: “I’m not aware of any change in position by the DUP, but the DUP can speak for themselves. I don’t think I should speak for them.
“As far as the Irish government is concerned our position hasn’t changed. We believe that the best solution is the Withdrawal Agreement including the Irish protocol and the backstop. ”We are of course open to alternative arrangements, we’ve always said that we were.”
He added that the Irish government is in contact with the British government and the rest of the EU to “explore ideas”.
“But I have to say that what’s been put forward so far falls very short of what we would need.”
Johnson will meet with Jean-Claude Juncker in Luxemberg – his first meeting with the EU Commission president since entering Number 10 – to discuss his proposals on Monday.